“Waiting, waiting for something to happen . . . .”
I wrote those words as a college student, now over a quarter century ago, but they articulate a longing I’ve felt for most of my life. In fact, the reason my second-grade self chose to walk the aisle that Sunday night is because I wanted to experience what it seemed like so many of the people around me were talking and singing about. Even as an 8-year-old, I sensed something wasn’t right. I recognized I was flawed, sinful, not as happy as everyone else. I wanted to taste joy. I wanted to see myself changed for the better. I wanted something to happen.
Fast forward to middle school, and I’m sitting in that same sanctuary, the weekday-morning sun casting its beams through the green and pinkish-purple windows lining the room. My dad was on staff at that church, and, for a reason I can’t remember, I’d gone to work with him that summer day. So, ever the dutiful youth group kid, I grabbed my journal and Bible and decided to sit alone in the space where I was usually surrounded by other believers. I remember expecting—hoping, really—to feel something, learn something, have a supernaturally-inspired flash of insight. I also remember being disappointed. And a little worried. I was waiting for the something to happen, but the waiting just continued.
I’m forty-five this year, which means I’ve been to roughly 2000 church services in my lifetime. That’s not counting Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, or youth group meetings. Suffice it to say I’ve done a LOT of church. And when you’ve spent thousands of Sundays with Christians, you end up hearing countless variations on what we currently refer to as “God stories.” Stories of how God spoke. Stories of how God moved. Stories of how God revealed sin, empowered change, healed illness, uncovered truth, restored relationships, delivered justice, granted grace. Chill-bump-raising, tear-inspiring stories of how God brought his supernatural presence into someone’s skin-and-bones reality.
I may have heard as many of these stories as I’ve been to church services. And, for whatever, reason, I usually end up comparing my own spiritual journey with that of the person sharing. Most of the time, my own experiences seem to pale in comparison. The revelation doesn't seem as clear. The transformation is disappointingly short-lived. The restoration is not quite as miraculous as I'd hoped. Only a couple of chill-bumps, and not an abundance of tears. All of this only serves to remind me that I’m still waiting. Waiting for something to happen. Something that seems to be happening all around me, but not to me. . . . .
More soon . . . .